A special thank you to the Cummings Foundation for supporting HLA's Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids!  


Many children in, or at risk of entering, our juvenile justice system end up there because of unmet mental health needs. HLA’s Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) has a proven track record of significantly improving the lives of these children and their families while reducing unnecessary costs for the state. 

MHAP for Kids has 15 staff attorneys who are each based at a Family Resource Center across the state and who serve youth and families in every county across the Commonwealth. Review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to learn more.

Is your child/student/client experiencing difficulty accessing mental health services?

Give us a call at 617.275.2919 for an intake or use our toll-free number at 855.218.3965.



MHAP for Kids’ attorneys, who are specially trained in health, education, state agency, and juvenile justice law, are based in Family Resource Centers located in Boston (Roxbury), Brockton, Everett, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Hyannis, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Pittsfield, New Bedford, Quincy, and Worcester.


What services does MHAP for Kids provide?

  • Begin or improve special education services
  • Secure and/or coordinate community-based mental health services
  • Collaborate with Dept. of Children and Families, Dept. of Mental Health, and Dept. of Developmental Services
  • Advocate for general education accommodations
  • Assist with health insurance coverage


Proven Results

Boston University's School of Public Health (BUSPH) has evaluated MHAP for Kids since 2015.

From 2015-2017, BUSPH measured the outcomes of MHAP for Kids and some key highlights were:

  • Improved school attendance;
  • Decreased use of emergency mental health services by children;
  • Decreased inpatient hospitalizations of children;
  • Decreased children’s stays in residential facilities;
  • Decreased children's stays in emergency shelters;
  • Significantly improved overall mental health of children;
  • Significantly reduced parental rates of depression; and
  • Significantly decreased parental stress.

Read the full report here


BUSPH continued to evaluate MHAP for Kids from 2017-2022, studying changes to the program, baseline and follow-up data on youth and families served, and the impact of COVID-19. The study found that MHAP for Kids:

  • Significantly improves the overall mental health of children;
  • Significantly improves the overall mental health of family caregivers;
  • Dramatically decreases the need for inpatient hospitalizations of children (34% reduced to 14%);
  • Significantly decreases the need for emergency room visits (42% reduced to 17%); 
  • Significantly decreases the need for in-home mobile crisis team services (40% reduced to 24%); 
  • Decreases children’s need for stays in residential facilities (19% reduced to 8%);
  • Reduces juvenile delinquency court involvement; 
  • Decreases CRA involvement of youth; and
  • Significantly improves overall family functioning.

Read the full 2023 report here.


Watch Amiyah's Story:

Amiyah's Story from Health Law Advocates on Vimeo.

Watch Ben's Story:

Ben's Story from Tira Khan, Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo

Watch Avante's Story: 

Avante's Story from Tira Khan, Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo.

Watch Tristan's Story:

Tristan's Story from Tira Khan, Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo.


MHAP for Kids is generously supported by grants from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, the Cummings Foundation, the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation, the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, the Beveridge Family Foundation, the Harold Brooks Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee, the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, the Albert W. Rice Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, the John W. Alden Trust, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, and the Bennett Family Foundation.

Funding for MHAP for Kids is also provided by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and the Massachusetts Probation Service. Generous support for this program has also been provided by Boston Children’s Hospital and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and many more corporate and individual supporters.